Friday, November 14, 2014

Disco Fever

If you've read my blogs you may already know that last December I received the best teacher gift ever.  If you don't recall, it was a spectacular, shiny, mirror ball (a.k.a. cool disco ball that nobody else in my building has) that now hangs suspended from my classroom ceiling.  

Click here to read blog: I Have Something You Don't Have

It's quite a conversation piece, this reflecting ball of tiny mirrors and from the first day of school, my class has asked questions about it.  Questions like:  What is that?  Why do you have that?  Can I touch it?  How does it work?  Comments like: I wish I had one of those in my room.  That is so cool.  I thought teachers weren't supposed to hang things from the ceiling.  (The last comment being said by a future fire chief.  Obv.)

I just shrug at their questions and nod my head at their comments.  I intentionally don't say much about it.  It is just there.  Weeks pass and it doesn't do anything.  It isn't used for anything.  But the students never forget it's there.  They write about it sometimes in their writer's notebook.  They practice their cursive letters: d-i-s-c-o   b-a-l-l.  They look up at it when on the back carpet during reading discussions.  They wait.  

So, today, with just twenty minutes left to go in our day as they sat hunched over their chess boards intently playing, I decided it was time.   I stealthily walked to my desk and clicked from the "Solo Piano Music" station currently playing on Pandora to "Disco Radio".  Earth, Wind & Fire.   Perfect.   Suddenly every single one of them stopped in their tracks.  They may be little in size, but they can pick up on something new in a nanosecond.  

"Disco!" screeched one little boy as he jumped to his feet, chess pieces toppling, and instantly did a pretty good impression of John Travolta in Saturday Night Live stretching his arm in the air with one finger pointing to the ceiling.  Almost in unison, up jumped several more doing some pretty impressive dance moves.  Their smiles and laughter were in complete contrast to the quiet and calm chess playing from just seconds before.  It was almost as if a switch had been turned on.  

I laughed and danced along a bit with them.   "This," I said pausing for effect as I pointed to the mirror ball, "is disco!"

"Turn the lights out and make it spin around," commanded one little boy as he danced over to me.  

"Yeah.  Do that," joined in some others.  

"Oh, that doesn't happen until later," I told them, acting as mysteriously as I could.   

"Let's have a dance party every Friday!" one suggested to the nods of the other dancers.  "But it has to be disco!" 

But we were running out of time.   The bell would be ringing in ten minutes and we had to clean up. 

"Don't turn it off!" begged one little one, panic setting in.   So I asked them to clean up and and I kept the music playing.  It was one of the highlights of my week, that's for sure, watching them laugh and pick up chess pieces while not missing a beat.  

Someone better call a doctor, cuz I think we've caught the fever in my room.  The disco fever.    

Good thing I have a mirror ball.                            

Play Some Disco

Friday, November 7, 2014

Why I Do What I Do

I am a teacher.  Some days that's an exciting blend of learning, excitement, and cooperation.  Some other days it's not even a blend.  It's more of a chaotic, upside down, roller coaster. Or maybe a mood swing.   Either way, it all seems to even out in the end and I like my job.  In fact, honestly, most days it doesn't feel like a 'job' because it truly is fun to be surrounded by little kids all day and work with people that you can also call friends.  

I am a teacher.  I spend seven hours a day interacting with kids - talking, coaxing, listening, pushing, correcting, disciplining, modeling, and laughing.  I spend another 2-3 hours every day organizing, correcting, copying, planning, collaborating, and reflecting.   On weekends, I dedicate several hours to prepare for the week ahead, or look for materials for upcoming units of study.  School is never far from my mind.

I am a teacher. I am constantly attending professional development to improve and learn more.  I read educational blogs and books to keep up with current research and best practices.  I spend every available moment at school talking with colleagues and comparing what works best and sharing ideas.   I am a student myself and invigorated by learning.  Not just the teacher, but a student also.

I am a teacher.  I get yelled at by parents.  I get defied by students.  I get stood up for conferences.  I get more work and less pay.  I get headaches.  I get impatient and I lose things.  I get anxious and stressed.  I get slammed in the media for the profession I love.  I have years of experience but I learn something new 

So, why do I do it, year after year?

For the smile from the shy girl that arrives every day and comes to tell me a story about her night.  For the hug from the boy who got assigned the animal he wanted for his research report.  For the knowing look across the hallway with a teacher who feels the same way I do and can communicate it to me with a look.  For the handmade card carefully drawn by a student.  For the many Almond Joy candy bars I received when the students found out that it's my favorite.  For the laughs when I mess up and show them it's ok to laugh at yourself.  For the students I had last year who stop by for a hug.  For the bouquets of dandelions.  For the little faces that peek in the windows at recess and wave.  For the genuine clapping from the students when I read them a picture book.  For the admiration in their eyes when I show them the cursive letter "z".  For the tears I can wipe away.  For the aches I can lessen.  For the fears I can stop. For the times I see a student help another student and be a friend. For the joy on their faces when I give them an extra recess.  For the "AHA" moment from the student that finally gets division.  For the twenty hands that go up whenever I say, "Can I get someone to help me with ______?"  For the pushing back they give me when I push them to do their best.  For the hours and hours and days and days that I get to spend with each and every one of them. 

I do it because I couldn't do anything else. I am a teacher.